Having been serving in the Navy, Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns home to find his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) not only throwing a party but kissing another man, night club owner Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silva). With things tense between Johnny and Helen especially as she can't stop drinking, smothering her pain over the death of their child Johnny leaves after another argument. But when Helen is later found murdered it is Johnny who becomes suspect number one and needing to prove his own innocence.
That synopsis for "The Blue Dahlia" makes it sound like a straight forward case of a guy ends up suspect in his wife's murder case because someone saw them argue on the night she was killed. But "The Blue Dahlia" ends up more than just that as before Helen is murdered Johnny's friend Buzz unknowingly has a drink with her but he also has memory issues. And then as Johnny leaves town he unknowingly shares a ride with an attractive blonde who happens to be Eddie Harwood's estranged wife. I could go on because the writers of "The Blue Dahlia" have certainly put some twists and turns into the mix and it certainly makes it entertaining although not that thrilling.
But of course "The Blue Dahlia" is a 1940's black & white thriller, yes for many that makes this film-noir. In truth it is film-noir but for more reasons than that and as such it has to be said that "The Blue Dahlia" is dripping in classic noir style from the use of shadows to the sudden sounds of a bell ringing. It also has the classic mix of shifty, tough guy characters and dangerous dames. But that leads me to the thing which I don't like about "The Blue Dahlia" and most movies classed as film-noir and that is the dialogue which has that descriptive nature which is great in print but unnatural when characters say the lines.
What "The Blue Dahlia" also has is the cast with Alan Ladd playing the nice guy tough guy with ease whilst William Bendix delivers an entertaining performance as Buzz although he is a bit OTT in his mannerisms. But of course "The Blue Dahlia" happens to be a Veronica Lake movie and again she steals the picture from all those around her with that mix of beauty and mystery which makes us wonder at times whether she could be the killer, she certainly has no fear.
What this all boils down to is that "The Blue Dahlia" is certainly an entertaining 1940s thriller which doesn't have a lot wrong with it, other than some usually overly descriptive dialogue. But it is a movie for those who love film-noir as it is fans of the genre who will enjoy all the noir elements.